Covering School Violence and Discipline

Violence, both in school and out, affects every aspect of the lives of children it touches. Violence can be as fleeting as a playground injury or as devastating as an abusive parent, gang battles in a child's neighborhood, a terror attack or a natural disaster. Exposure to violence and trauma exacts an emotional toll on children, and their reactions and scars may be very different from adults'.
Community journalists covering a wide range of beats, including youth, education, living, police, may need to identify and report on the effects of violence and trauma in their coverage of children. Understanding the effects and fallout of exposure to trauma will help journalists produce ethical, balanced and complete stories.
This page provides resources to help journalists focus their coverage of children and schools that are touched by violence. These resources are provided as part of a Specialized Reporting Institute (SRI), “Covering Youth Violence: Lessons from the Front Lines,” hosted by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism on October 25‒26, 2012. The SRI was funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Find an Expert

John Sullivan, Pulitzer Prize-winning Philadelphia Inquirer reporter and assistant director of Medill Watchdog,

Carl Bell, M.D., acting director, Institute for Juvenile Research and Professor, Department of Psychiatry and School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago,

Jens Ludwig, McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy at the University of Chicago, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab, and co-director of the University of Chicago's Urban Education Lab,

Theodore Corbin, assistant professor, Department of Emergency Medicine and Health and management and policy director, Violence Intervention Program, Drexel University College of Medicine and School of Public Health,

Stephen Franklin, ethnic news media director for the Community Media Workshop,

Blogs to Follow

DART BLOG, the blog of the DART Center for Journalism and Trauma, dedicated to providing journalists with the resources necessary to meet the challenge of covering violence, conflict and tragedy.

CNN's Schools of Thought blog covers education from a variety of perspectives that include policies, practices and people.

Twitter Tags to Watch

@npcommunicator: The Community Media Workshop connects community with media

@CDCInjury: CDC Injury Center's mission is to prevent injuries and violence and reduce their consequences

@CNNSchools: CNN’s Schools of Thought blog covers education from a variety of perspectives that include policies, practices and people.

Key Resources

Key Web Resources

The Centers for Disease Control website offers resources on youth violence and school violence.

The Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism: The Dart Center provides resources to assist journalists in creating informed, innovative and ethical news reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy. The Dart Center’s website provides articles, interviews, advice, tipsheets and other resources.

National Center for Children Exposed to Violence (NCCEV) trains and supports professionals who provide intervention and treatment to children and families affected by violence and aims to increase professional and public awareness of the effects of violence on children, families, communities and society. The website includes a comprehensive resources center, including a section on school violence.

The University of Chicago's Urban Education Institute aims to to create knowledge to produce reliably excellent urban schooling. The UEI merges scholarship and practice to create tools and models for improving urban schools to influence the lives of children nationwide.

The University of Chicago's Institute for Juvenile Research, a multidisciplinary research, training and service institute for children's mental health, is a vital part of the Chicago community and a major research and training center for children's mental health.

Community Media Workshop provides a unique mix of communications coaching for grassroots, arts and other nonprofit organizations and sources grassroots and community news for journalists.

Articles and Papers by SRI Speakers

Are Zero Tolerance Policies Effective in the Schools?, an academic paper, describes controversy over zero-tolerance policies and their effect on reducing school violence

Other Victims, the summer 2012 issue of Catalyst, focused on violence and youth, including articles by SRI presenter and Catalyst editor-in-chief Lorraine Forte

SRI presenter Jens Ludwig discussed Understanding the Research on Youth Violence

SRI presenter Stephen_Franklin offered these tips for Coverage of Youth Violence

SRI presenter John Sullivan, along with reporters Susan Snyder, Kristen A. Graham and Dylan Purcell, won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2012 for this 7-part series on school violence:

Resources from the SRI

The DART Center offers two publications focused on youth violence: Covering Children & Trauma and Tragedies & Journalists

Project NIA produced this report on Policing Chicago Public Schools

Helping Children Cope with Trauma

Talking to Children About the School Shooting, a blog post on the Newtown shooting

Family Safety Tip Sheet — Helping Children Cope With Traumatic Events, a resource from

University of Michigan health system's resources for Helping Children Cope with Disasters and Traumatic Events

PsychCentral's guidelines for Parenting after Traumatic Events: Ways to Support Children

Additional Web Resources

What Journalists Need to Know About Guns and Gun Control, a column by Poynter's Al Tompkins

SAMHSA's guide to Coping with Violence and Traumatic Events

How to Manage Trauma, an infographic on recognizing and coping with trauma

A Timeline Of Mass Shootings In The US Since Columbine


Live Chat Replay

Learn How journalists can improve their coverage of youth violence from this replay of a live chat with Dr. Carl Bell, acting director of the Institute for Juvenile Research and a professor in the University of Illinois’ Department of Psychiatry and in the School of Public Health and a speaker at the SRI

Webinar Replay

Trauma Awareness: What Every Journalist Needs to Know: Covering traumatic events affects journalists' well-being and their ability to do their jobs. This Webinar, originally broadcast Nov. 10, 2009, and offered in partnership with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, teaches journalists to recognize and manage stress and trauma.

Self-Directed Course

Journalism and Trauma: Learn how traumatic stress affects victims and how to interview trauma victims with compassion and respect.

Reporting on Sexual Violence: Become familiar with research, resources and information that will facilitate your coverage of and enable you to dispel commonly-held myths about sexual violence.